Fuel, liquor to become cheaper

Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, Feb 12: Petrol and diesel in Assam will become cheaper by Rs 5 per litre as the State government on Friday announced removal of the additional cess levied on the two items since last year at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The revised rates will come into effect from Friday midnight.

Presenting the vote on account 2021-22 in the Assam Legislative Assembly, Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma also announced removal of the 25 per cent additional cess on liquor.

“At the peak of COVID-19, we had levied additional cess on petrol, diesel and liquor. Now, the pandemic has declined to a reasonable extent, the number of patients has reduced and the need for COVID-19 screening centres has also gone down. As such, the expenditure on healthcare sector has substantially come down. Hence, the State Cabinet has decided to withdraw the additional cess and taxes imposed during the COVID-19 period,” Sarma said.

Sarma said the government will lose around Rs 1,100 crore annually due to withdrawal of the additional cess on petrol and diesel, but added that this has been done for the convenience of the masses.

After the withdrawal of the additional cess, petrol prices in Assam will be the second lowest among all states, after Gujarat, while diesel prices in Assam will be the fourth lowest, after Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

The Finance Minister also placed a vote on account of Rs 60,784.03 crore for a period of six months from April 1 to September 30. “To fulfill the obligatory and other necessary expenditure commitments, I seek a vote on account for an aggregate expenditure of Rs 60,784.03 crore for a period of six months from April 1 to September 30, 2021, well before which, the detailed General Budget is expected to be presented,” said Sarma.

As the Assembly elections are due in April-May, a full-fledged Budget was not presented in this session.

Sarma also spoke about the government’s bid to give shape to the dreams and aspirations of millions of people, with programmes like Svayem, Orunodoi, Kanaklata Mahila Sabalikaran Yojana, Pragyan Bharati, Chief Minister’s Samagra Gramya Unnayan Yojana and Antodyaya. He said the government has reached out to the most marginalized sections of society and ensured they become an integral part of the growth process and development. He spoke of the development of the tea community and farmers who have access to the latest technology to support their work in the fields.

He highlighted cancer care and Atal Amrit Abhiyan with which citizens can access world-class healthcare, the Bodo peace accord and the Sixth Schedule reforms. He added that Assam has not witnessed a single incident of communal unrest during the term of the present government.

Interestingly, in his speech, the Finance Minister also quoted a song from the book Sahashra Geetimalika written by his father, poet-lyricist and translator late Kailash Nath Sarma.

Meanwhile,  notifications regarding reduction in prices of liquor and fuel (petrol and diesel) were issued on Friday evening by the departments concerned.